Apr 28, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard C.J. Watson (7) drives past Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard Evan Turner (12) during the first half in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE
It's been the topic of Sixer related conversation ever since game one was in the books and everybody accepted that Derrick Rose wouldn't be returning: would Jodie Meeks continue to start or would Evan Turner be inserted back in?
In today's helping of Sixers links, we'll dive right into the speculation of who is going to have his name called by the Bulls' public address announcer prior to game two tomorrow night. Every impression I'm seeing is leading me to believe that it will be Turner who will start alongside Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala in the backcourt. But don't go by what I'm assuming, check out today's links and decide for yourself.
Asked if Watson was his assignment to guard, Holiday said, "No, that's Evan. I'm on Rip (Hamilton) tomorrow."
Collins reiterated that even though the Bulls will be without star Derrick Rose for the rest of the series, the key for the Sixers is rebounding. That is an area where Turner can be a big contributor.
"But if we don't rebound we can't win. We gave them 20 second-chance points. We talked to our bigs and our wings about rebounding the ball. One of the problems that we have is when we put [Andre Iguodala] on Rip or Korver, he's one of our better rebounders and he's away from the basket. Same thing about Evan."
"You know I’m not going to answer that," Collins said when asked if he was going to use the same starting lineup for Game 2. Still, Collins pointed out that guarding an active player who runs all over the floor like Hamilton is no easy feat for Turner, either.
"He’s never really chased guys as a two-guard or a small forward so that’s a real adjustment," Collins said. "But I’m very happy with Evan, I think he’s made great strides. I think last year in the playoffs he took a big jump and I think in Game 1 he played very well. For us to win, a big part of it is his rebounding. He and [Andre Iguodala] help us on the boards and the problem for ’Dre is he’s chasing guys on the perimeter and we missed both of those guys on the boards."
"You have to be aggressive," Turner said. "Rip is a vet so he knows how to move around and maneuver. Sometimes you have to body up with him, sometimes he uses his hands and starts pushing and stuff so you have to get your body into him and limit where he wants to go and what he wants to do."
"The guy is relentless; he is indefatigable," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "He runs this one play to perfection; they ran it in Detroit and he is the master at the play. Our thing with scorers is, can you hold them to one point per shot? He had 19 points on seven shots so we have to cut way back on his effectiveness."
Jodie Meeks had the Hamilton defensive assignment in Game 1 Saturday, but seven minutes into the quarter, after Hamilton scored 11 points, Meeks was subbed out for Evan Turner. Turner proceeded to play 30 minutes. Meeks never took the court again.
So without Rose, Chicago is a team with an elite defense that struggles to shoot well. That sounds exactly like their current opponent, the Sixers. The metric comparisons are almost uncanny: Philadelphia's overall effective field goal percentage is .480, close to the Bulls Minus Rose's .475 and far below the Healthy Bulls' .500. Without Rose, the Bulls' offensive efficiency is just under 1.04 points per possession -- the Sixers are at 1.039. Meanwhile, both versions of the Bulls carry a defense that gives up 0.98 points per possession; the Sixers gave up 0.99 this season.
Perhaps what the injury tells us most about is the fate of the 76ers, who have a nice little team that is equivalent to the conference's No. 1 seed missing its best player. That's not comforting, to have built to a level where it'll take a player the caliber of Rose to accede to the top of the ladder. Derrick Roses don't grow in gardens, and should Philadelphia go on to lose this series, a long look in the mirror and into the crystal ball will be in order.
The MGM Grand Race & Sports Book still has the Bulls as a -600 favorite for the seven-game series, which the Bulls lead 1-0. Oddsmakers in Vegas and overseas have the Bulls winning Tuesday’s game by 6 to 6 ½ points.
"His injury is key " MGM Grand Sports Book Director Jay Rood wrote in an e-mail. "But not as big if he had played every game and we didn't know how the team would play without him. We have a good sample size on that this year so it removes some uncertainty."
For all my fellow sneaker heads out there, check out what the NBA's best had to offer this past weekend, including Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday.